On 30 May 2023, the European Federation of Geologists (EFG) organised the webinar ‘Formation and chemical evolution of the Moon as the key to assess its potential metal resources‘.
The presenter of the webinar was Dr Renaud Merle, a Researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University. The host of the session was EFG Secretary General Magnus Johansson.
The Moon is finally back on the top-priority list of space agencies, after nearly 50 years of overlooking. The aim of this new space race is a long-term exploration and maybe even colonisation of the solar system. In such a scheme, Earth’s moon (‘The Moon’), is seen as a step-stone to colonise Mars and then eventually beyond. In the context of unsettled supply chain, or even depletion, of critical chemical elements on Earth, the driving force of the current space race is to use resources available ‘on site’, dubbed as ‘In Situ Resource Utilization’ or ISRU. As the Moon is likely to play a key role in solar system exploration, there is a vital need to assess its natural resources. With no atmosphere or fluid on its surface, no plate tectonics or even active volcanism, the potential lunar metal resources must originate from the initial formation and early chemical evolution of the Moon. Assessing what are the chemical element resources, where they are located and eventually how they formed, means to better understanding the formation of the Moon and its early chemical differentiation. Models exist but they are not perfect. The different stages leading to the differentiation of the Moon into a planet with a core, a mantle and a crust can be traced in lunar rocks derived from the mantle such as the basaltic volcanic rocks. The purpose of this talk is to present the current knowledge of potential metal resources of the Moon and to discuss the existing models of formation and evolution of the Moon based on geochronology and geochemistry of the lunar volcanism. This approach is the key to assessing how metal resources are formed, how much of a specific element we should expect and where we should find it.
Watch the recording of thew webinar at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cY7vgOyIU4
–Renaud Merle is a Researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, since 2020. He graduated with a PhD in geochemistry in 2006 at the University of Nantes, France. As a post-doctoral researcher, he worked in different institutions in Europe (University of Geneva, CRPG-Nancy, Swedish Museum of Natural History) and Australia (Curtin University, ANU). He has studied the chemistry of terrestrial lavas for 18 years using isotope geochemistry and geochronology. Since 2012, he has been working on extraterrestrial materials including samples from the Apollo and (Soviet-era) Luna missions, meteorites from the Moon, Mars and the asteroid belt. He is currently developing a new research theme regarding the chemical element resources of the Moon.